Students rallied across the country on August 19 to protest education minister Christopher Pyne's third attempt to introduce a fee deregulation bill.
Tony Abbott’s government has twice failed to pass fee deregulation, which could allow fees in excess of $100,000 for students. The bill has not yet been put for a third time, but Pyne is determined to pass it.
More than 80 people rallied at the Sydney University protest, called by the National Union of Students, to oppose deregulation, defend current degrees and oppose all course and job cuts.
Georgia Mantle, Sydney University Student Representative Council's Indigenous office bearer, gave an impassioned acknowledgement of country.
John Kaye, NSW Greens education spokesperson, called on students and staff to be alert to another fee deregulation bill, and to keep fighting for an education system outside the grasp of the market.
“One-third of TAFE in NSW is already privately-run, and the effects have been devastating. Education is not a commodity,” he said.
NSW state secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Genevieve Kelly, expressed support for the national actions taking place across the country, especially to Sydney University staff who are facing imminent cutbacks.
TAFE organiser for the NSW Teachers Federation Kathy Nicholson, said: “People are waking up to what is happening. It is the theft of our future. This is our common wealth that they are selling off.
“Apprentices are being forced into $20,000 debt at the beginning of their trade because they have privatised TAFE. Crows Nest TAFE has just been sold off — closed — and more will follow.
“Well, we will fight this. We must fight for all our futures.”
Joe Deakin, Sydney assistant branch secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, sent solidarity from the workers on strike at Hutchison Ports. “Universities used to be for the rich and rich only,” he said. “And that's what they want to turn education into again.”
David Shakes, Sydney University SRC Education Officer, and Alma Torlakevi, a Sydney University NTEU member, spoke of the impending fight against course and staff cuts.
Money was collected for the striking workers at Port Botany wharves. Students marched to nearby University Technology Sydney, but were forced onto the footpath by police.
Four police horses accompanied the large police presence and UTS management bought out extra security to stop students from entering the campus.